Collective Parenting

Where "it takes a village to raise a child" and "internet outrage" meet.

In this social media era, it seems that outrage for any particular topic or side is fast and scaled. It's no longer uncommon to see companies or public figures or individuals get called out, and forced to relent or apologize. 

I think about the recent movement within the entertainment industry in regards to sexual harassment and treatment of women. Often it seemed that the removal of the accused was within days or hours of news breaking. 

I also think about the Logan Paul controversy spilling over to the mainstream news. 

I'm still of a framework where ethnics and morals were primarily informed by the family or neighborhood unit. My parents would scold or praise or instill behaviors they believed to be just or moral. Also, my peers and school and general surroundings would tell me how to act. 

But with the internet, we live in a world where we are exposed to so many more agents delivering their framework for ethnics. And they ever more present and closer to your being than ever before with ever-connected phones and devices. 

To show my age, I grew up on Looney Tunes cartoons. And the key moment, I remember would be the moments where a character pauses to contemplate a moral decision. "Should I eat this bird, or let it go free?" And then two smaller figures would appear on their shoulders, an "angel" and a "devil." And the two would press their case for either decision. The winner would dictate the action. 

 But now in the real world, we're at the precipice of an existence where for any given decision, there aren't two black-and-white figures. But rather a chorus of millions that represent the gray spectrum of morality. It's loud, fast, and overwhelming. We'll soon need tools as individuals to smooth out the signal to make sensible decisions.

Brain Currency

China is allowing companies to build a credit system that involves nudges towards "ideal" behaviors. It takes in social connections, quality of purchases, and choices over time to build a credit score that Americans have never seen before. 

The mid-term future pessimist will be Orwellian dystopia. 

But I'm curious about long-term optimism. 

If we time-traveled back centuries to small villages. Trust was a simpler calculation. "Jeff" raises cows, and a pretty cool dude. "Tim" is a bartender, and is surly as fuck. If Jeff needs some extra corn, then why not--Jeff's a good guy. But Tim is a drunk, so no way. 

We're in a dark valley of civilization where we scaled past our facilities, so we now have concepts like "strangers" and "global logistics." It's hard to determine trust and value from any individual. Credit and loans were intended to allow scaling in a world of strangers.

But technology is starting to scale to a level that it can act invisibly on our behalf. Imagine our phones or brain-chips that negotiate trust and value in the background. Without a third-party like the Chinese government or Facebook to make it all murky and weird. 

Tech can return us to that small-village life where we can again make trust-value judgements with anyone who enters our lives. We could offload entire categories of apps and structures we have today: governments, currency, dating apps, ancestry trackers, credit checkers, banks, wedding gift registries…a whole lot.  


This is out of my depth, but a thought experiment.

The Greeks had direct democracy. Theoretically, every man had a direct say into the functions of the society. (Let's forgo the lack of women and slaves for a second.)

As populations boomed, technology couldn't scale to match. So we have modified systems of a representative government. We elect a person to speak on behalf of sub-sectors of people. It mostly works…most of the time? (Let's not look at the US right this minute…)

But I wonder when the moment technology actually does catch up to scale of the human race. Could we forgo the need for elected officials? Could be forgo borders? 

What would mean to actually be able to vote on issues with input from consistently five billion people? (About 27% of the world population is under 14. So let's exclude them.) 

Maybe instead of subset of government workers, we have an unified server that queues and prioritizes any issue submitted by any human. And at specific intervals during the day or week, a ballot is send to any phone or brain-chip. 

A new global nervous that operates at the speed of hours instead of years.  

The Scale of Good/Genius

I grew up with the notion that everything gets better. Call it American optimism. 

So I naturally leaned into the complaint about shitty music. That music has gone downhill. And what happened when great artists made good music? All these terrible bands making terrible music on the radio and Soundcloud. 

But I think the observation is off. With successive generation, regardless of better knowledge or technology, the proportion of good to shitty doesn't drastically change. The raw number goes up as the barriers to creation get lowered. But the relative percentage of either doesn't skew too much.

The past gets the benefit of filtering and gatekeeping. So all the cheese, the works-in-progress, the bad experiments, the kitsch gets slowly removed from the conversation. It's then easy to wrongly compare to the present where we're exposed to everything in real time. (We forget that every decade has artists making quick-buck Christmas albums or phoning in a film score or jumping on another hot artist's song.) 

Something that I'm less sure about though, but is a gut feeling: the ceiling number for genius creations, regardless of population, remains fairly fixed. It was a billion people in the world when Mozart was alive. But is there seven Mozarts right now generating at Mozart pace at Mozart levels of craftsmanship? (It's a gross simplification for illustration purposes.)

So anyways, I'm much more interested in the proportionality of work being created rather than the expectation of collective greatness. 

Habits & Structural Truths

I am weak-willed. Easily distracted. Flexible in reality. I like the fluidity of perception. 

I like that a hundred people could look at one painting, and we would get a thousand interpretations. 

But that also makes me terrible at dieting. And exercising. And spending my money well. 

The moment often outweighs the futuristic savings. Of course, I will take my visiting friends to my favorite bar. Even if I said I wouldn't drink this week. Or that I already got take-out because I didn't cook the day before.

So I picked up the old practice of marking off a calendar for daily habits. 

For the past three months, I prioritized three things: 1) reading, 2) exercise, and 3) personal projects. 

The calendar on the whiteboard, to me, is a structural truth. It either has the mark for the day, or it doesn't. There's no lying to it. Now I could lie to myself. I could walk around the block, and call it exercise. But to what end? So I leave that day unmarked. It's okay. 

I thought I'd only do it for 30 days. But after the month, it was easy enough to redraw the calendar. And again in another month. 

The tally so far:

1) 20 books, only missed one day of reading out of 92 days.
2) 46 days of exercise, so batting over 50%
3) 18 days of personal projects. (Which roughly conforms to the available free time I would give it.)

I've been finding over and over again in my adult life the need for help. Even if it's just a whiteboard. I can only hold so much in my present mind, and things that I don't want to do slip easily. So I build structural truths to keep me honest.


I need to hang out more with charismatic researchers. I was catching up with one the other day. And to watch him talk to another person and just lightly probe and pick at their story is amazing. Never forced, genuine curiosity. Just steady inquiring and going deeper and wider as the answers are given.

In the Moment

I'm terrible at being present.

I have a future-oriented mindset. So my instinct is to set my gaze ahead instead of in-front.

But I'm also trying to sit more actively in my flow states. There is a joy in executing or implementing something real.

Selfishly, it's often a personal project. But it's often those projects that let you sit within the  mental state that makes you happy. 

Mine is to be off-kilter. I remember being in the living room as a kid, and just spinning. The dizziness, and the floor lurching as I laid there. And then trying variations - like counter spinning to see what happens. 

It's those projects that make me happy. It's when I'm most present in life.